Turkey Hunting Tips
Spring and fall are the two popular hunting times for turkeys, although the spring breeding time is when toms are most vulnerable to hunters because they are thinking about mating.
Consistent success comes when you have worked out where the turkeys roost and where they head during the day to feed. Once you know this, plan a strategy to put yourself along their travel route.
Why use blinds?
The reason turkey hunters use a blind is for concealment as the turkey’s eyesight is legendary!
Blinds are also great is you want to hunt with a buddy or introduce a child to hunting. Trying to get a child to remain motionless for hours on end backed up against a stump – is a big ask! Also two hunters hunting together will make movements either drawing their bow, or raising their gun, or just moving to get comfortable.
All of the above can occur much more safely if done inside a portable blind.
What sort of blind do I need?
When you have decided where to set up your blind, erect it about a week before you intend to use it, in order to give the birds a chance to get used to it. When it is up, clear the inside floor of any leaves, twigs etc that may cause a noise as you move around inside.
It is really worthwhile to buy/beg/borrow a portable folding chair to sit on to make the hours of waiting more comfortable. It also assists you to be in a better position for taking the shot, rather than be sitting on the ground. You can even use the chair to rest you arm and gun on.
When buying a blind, ensure it is big enough and has enough headroom. A popular size is 60″ square to allow plenty of room for moving around and raising bow/gun. Although most of your shots may be taken while you are seated, allow enough headroom to stand up and stretch, and to take the occasional difficult angled shot.
Choose a camouflage pattern that blends in with your hunting environment to assist turkeys getting used to it.
A good blind should have windows on all 4 sides and between 4-8 shooting ports. When hunting, keep the minimum number of windows open in order to prevent your silhouette or shadows being picked up when you move around. Keep the back window closed if at all possible . Wearing dark/camo clothing to match the interior can assist.
Ensure any window flaps are secured to prevent flapping in the wind and spooking the turkeys.
Some blinds come with a darkened interior that in some cases also absorbs a lot of your scent [not very important for turkey hunting].
A common strategy is to place your blind close to a gobbler’s strut zone and tempt him close for a shot. An alternative strategy is to set up close to the roost [about 150 yards] and place one Jake and two hens about 15 yards out with the Jake facing your blind. This is because gobblers attempt to make eye contact with the decoys, so facing them towards your blind puts the gobbler between you and the decoy.
For the best success, start your scouting a month or so before opening season by going out before sunrise and listening for turkeys gobbling on the roost. You may hear a tom roar from a nearby creek bottom or up on a ridge.
However doing this once is not enough as they move around a bit, and the weather and other hunters may cause a change in their pattern. It is called patterning them because they tend to be at their strut zones at similar times of the day.
It is worthwhile doing this several times in order to pattern them so you will increase you knowledge of where they like to be.
To locate the strut zones, nothing beats walking the woods to find them. Look in disturbed pine needles or forest floor leaves for a figure 8 pattern that is made when they drag their wings as they strut.
Check the sunny side of the hills [east or south facing slopes] in the morning for strut zones as this helps them warm up.
Turkeys will usually gobble, but rarely come to calling when they are in the strut zone.
Look for roosting areas by looking for feathers and turkey droppings. Roosts are often on east facing slopes about a third of the way down so they are out of the prevailing winds.
Mature Toms will often roost in pines as they can reduce wind speeds by up to 75%.
Toms may have several strut zones so your scouting should identify where all of these are, and then you can plan to position more than one blind at these strut zones in case the weather or other hunters cause a change of plan.
As sight is the turkey’s main defence against predators, they usually use meadows and open fields as feeding and strutting zones, and wooded areas as roosting sites.
Remember that hunting from a blind does not reduce the scouting to identify roosting sites, strut zones and feeding areas.
This preparation will help pattern the birds and increase the success rate of your hunting.
The key to consistent success for hunters is to find ALL of the strut zones along with the approximate times they visit these strut zones, and then be there waiting for them.
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